Caring for your Maine Coon: I cannot emphasize this enough: You must expose your kittens to anything you want them to accept as adults. This is especially true of such large cats! If you want nail trimming to be a pleasant experience (and it can be, I promise!), you must demonstrate who's boss with them early and often.
Feeding: It is very important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores that have no dietary need for carbohydrates. When choosing a diet for your cats it is absolutely critical that it be high in very high quality protein. We are in the process of transitioning to a raw diet for our cats, and have seen excellent results so far with coat, appetite, and GI health - bonus: poops are less stinky! (When you have seven cats running around, that matters!) Some reading material here: UC Davis research; and CatInfo.org - one vet's take For kibble recommend only grain free foods, and ones with a minimum of 30% crude protein. Some brands we like: Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Blend, Wellness Core
Water: Fresh, clean water is absolutely critical to your cats overall health. We recommend using a filtered water fountain for your cat to encourage drinking. If that is not possible, then it is best to use ceramic bowls because they are easy to clean and very appealing to the cats. We use this fountain, but there are many others. (Reminder: don't use plastic - it gives cats acne. See below.)
Dishes: Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel, low sided bowls and clean them daily. I've had good success finding reasonably priced ceramic bowls in the pet section of TJMaxx. Plastic collects bacteria from the oils in the cat food and can lead to chin acne, bacterial infections etc. Maine Coons enjoy playing with their food and sometimes their water. We recommend using heavy water bowls and putting trays under the water bowls to prevent floods. Keep the food bowl at least 12 inches from the water bowl. Do not keep the litter pan anywhere near the food and water containers - no one likes to eat by the toilet. Eww.
Hairballs: You can offer a product like Petromalt which is a brown sticky paste. Recommended dosage is once a week, approximately one inch given orally. Many cats will lick it directly from the tube. A dry hacking, gagging cough is usually a hairball. If your cat is coughing, add a little of canned plain pumpkin to their regular canned food and give Petromalt daily until the hairball is expelled. If the coughing continues please take them to your vet.
Treats: We feed high protein cat treats periodically for training them to come when called (ok, and for fun). The cats and kittens really love chasing after their treats, which provides them with extra exercise. To train them to come, which is very helpful if they escape outside, come up with something recognizable and distinct. I yell a high pitched (and obnoxious) "kittykittykittykittykitty!" while shaking the food or treat container. Our cats sprint over to me like maniacs!
Litter and box: We use large (30 gallon) storage bins as litter boxes to accommodate the long length of the Maine Coon body. I cut a hole in the top to keep our tall Poodle from sampling the tasty tootsie rolls. Put litter pans in a quiet and well ventilated place. We use this unscented and inexpensive clumping litter but after your kitten is acclimated to his new home, you are welcome to use whatever litter suits your cat's preferences and your lifestyle. For young kittens we recommend a natural clumping litter, as they like to sample everything, and it can cause blockages in their throats as well as digestive track and intestines. One option is "World's Best" brand.
Grooming: Comb your Maine Coon cat daily as a kitten, then weekly as an adult Maine Coon using a wide tooth (coarse) comb, then progress to a tighter (fine) tooth comb. Do not use brushes on Maine Coons, they do nothing more than move the top layer of fur around. Be gentle and groom the cat in a position that is comfortable for you both. Start with the britches and tummy and progress to the back and chest which are more pleasurable for the cat. There are zillions of great options but here are some: comb, retractable slicker brush (bonus! it cleans cat trees like magic!), hair grabber (our cats come running to this, it's a little weird).
Bathing: Always comb your cat prior to bathing. Fill the sink with warm water and a little dish soap to break the surface tension so their hair will get wet. For a general bath (not a show bath) I generally just bathe them with the dish soap. Dawn is often recommended. Towel dry the cat well after the bath. Now you have a fresh smelling, lovely kitty to enjoy! Bathing will also help reduce the amount of hair that is shedding and is vital during their molting seasons (Spring and Fall). Greasy coats and shedding can lead to horrific mats so it is important to keep up with their grooming.
Nails: Trim the front and rear nails every week as a young kitten and every 2-3 weeks as an adult. Use small cat claw scissors and holding the cat in a stable position, like a football under your arm, press on the pads of the foot to extend the claw. Clip the translucent tip of the claw. The opaque portion should not be cut or your cat's claw will bleed - i.e. this will hurt and cause a negative reaction. Clipping claws should never hurt and if done properly, the cat will not mind. There are five claws on the front paws and four on the rear.
Ears, Eyes, Mouth and Noses: Use a warm damp soft washcloth or cotton ball and gently wash their eyes, nose and mouth, and wrap it around your finger to swab out the ear. Do not use q-tips or put any liquids in the ears unless directed by a vet. Wipe away brown wax but report any heavy buildup or black dots to your vet. Do not get water in their ears when bathing - do not submerge their heads at all!
Teeth: Check your cats teeth and gums frequently for signs of gum disease (gingivitis or stomatitis), tooth disease, tartar or teething. 75% of cats do develop Gingivitis sometime in their lives because of the type of bacteria in their mouths, and they cant chew bones and toys like dogs can. Very bad breath is not normal - your cat could have a problem. Juvenile gingivitis may be seen when the cats are 6 months-18 months old and occurs when the adult teeth are in and in unaltered cats, when their hormones start to kick in.
Fleas: There is no excuse to tolerate fleas. Use a topical product for CATS ONLY such as Revolution, Advantage or Frontline on your cat monthly to kill the fleas and treat your home. Fleas are very detrimental to your cat's health - they can kill a cat through anemia and give cats tapeworm, bacterial infections as well as make them miserable. Do not let fleas invade your home - keep your cats indoors and be alert.
Toys: When purchasing cat toys, make sure they are cat safe and do not have parts that can be easily removed and swallowed. Avoid glued on parts and make sure tails, bells, etc. are very secure. Mylar kitty teases are great, but do not leave them around for the cats to chew on - the metal strings can cause intestinal damage if swallowed. Thread and strings are also very dangerous. Cats tongues are like scratchy velcro. Once something like a ribbon is licked, it is nearly impossible for a cat to spit it out. Also strings and ribbons can get stuck around their necks. Ribbons can get stuck in their stomachs or cause an intestinal blockage and require surgery to remove. Your cats are like toddlers - keep dangerous items out of their reach (and their reach is incredible) and keep them safe. Expensive toys are not necessary - cats love cardboard boxes, paper bags (handles must be cut), tinfoil balls (large, tightly compacted), Ping-Pong balls, etc. Cat tracks and turbo scratchers are great. Catnip toys are wonderful. Pipe-cleaner toys (bugs) make great fetching toys.
Furniture: Cats love cat trees. They love to be up high as it gives them both a great view as well as a sense of security. Cats try to defy gravity all the time and we get to enjoy it when gravity wins. :-) A cat tree at least four feet tall is a necessity for cats. They need something tall and sturdy so that they can scratch. Scratching allows cats to have a mini-workout. They work their upper bodies, they work their lower bodies, their back, their abdomens.... well, ok - you get it! They flex, they crunch - they need a good workout and a cat tree with a sisal post works great.Declawing: Declawing is not an option for one of our kittens. Our contract explicitly states that you agree to never have the cat you purchase from us declawed.
Keeping a cat indoors: Cats are perfectly happy to live indoors if you provide them with affection, attention, a scratching post or cat tree, toys and quality food and fresh water. They've never been outdoors and don't miss what they don't know and they will never miss the following: • Being hit by a car • Being attacked or killed by dogs • Being attacked or killed by coyotes, raccoons, great horned owls or other carnivores • Injuries from other outdoor cats or diseases such as FIV, FIP or FeLV • Coming into contact with toxins or poisons (antifreeze, snail bait, rat poison) • Dealing with poisonous insects or snakes • Dealing with bees, wasps or hornets • Injuries or diseases from eating birds (splintered bones, toxoplasmosis) • Injury from a sadistic or cat-hating neighbor • Being stolen - Maine Coons are beautiful and affectionate and theft is not uncommon! Please have your cat Micro chipped by your vet
Harnesses: Many pet buyers have had success training their Maine Coons to walk around on leashes and harnesses. Always carry your cat outside, do not allow him to walk out the door on his own. Don't allow them any unsupervised time in a yard that is not fully enclosed. Just fencing is not enough as cats can EASILY climb over and get stuck outside your yard. You can find some really neat outdoor enclosures for your cat if you would like them to enjoy the outside with you. There are many options to screen in a portion of your yard or porch/patio so that your cat can have fun enjoying the outside for short periods of time.
Precautions: Many products and situations are hazardous to your cats. Pine based cleaners are toxic. Keep toilet lids down and do not use tank cleaners if your cat ever drinks from the toilet (I know, groan, but some do!). Treat your cat like a curious child and look for hazards. Cover electrical outlets, protect them from dangling blind cords or electrical cords, firescreen off your fireplace, candles, potpourri, be careful with recliners, hideabeds, rocking chairs, slamming doors. Be careful with beds (box springs, dangling threads), needles and thread, plastic bags, shopping bags, tape and sticky tags, cigarettes, styrofoam, packing peanuts, yarn, cellophane, open refigerators, washers & dryers, garbage cans, sharp tin can lids, chicken bones. Be observant and try to deal with hazards before your cat finds them.
Poisonous Plants Visit these web sites for lists of plants to avoid: CFA's list of plants at http://www.cfa.org/articles/plants.html
Health and First Aid Basic info: A cat's average temperature should range from 100.4 to 102.5 degrees farenheit. Kittens can be slightly warmer. A temperature of 103 degrees is cause for concern and an immediate vet visit. Measure temperatures with a rectal thermometer or an ear thermometer. Pulse should be 110-130 beats per minute. Respiration should be 20-30 breaths per minute. Keep your vet's phone number handy as well as locate an emergency clinic or after hours vet nearby if your regular vet is closed. Emergencies seem to always happen at night or on weekends.